KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A teen is continuing his fight to end hunger. At the start of the pandemic, we introduced you to Farragut High School student William Cabaniss. He created his own 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank.
Now, he’s taken on a new way to help feed East Tennesseans.
Cabaniss, 15, is participating in a weeklong competition to raise money for Second Harvest. He’s teamed up with food blogger Krista DeSocio, of DeSocio in the Kitchen, as Hunger Action Heroes.
“I’m a food blogger, he makes vanilla. It was a perfect marriage of a team,” DeSocio said. “We’ll just be able to feed more people in need, honestly that is the biggest win out of all of this.”
The duo is battling WNML radio host Heather Harrington and Marc Nelson Denim founder Marcus Hall to see who can raise more money. While it is a competition there is no prize – other than helping neighbors in need.
“It’s changing lives. It’s changing the trajectory of people’s lives if they can eat, and that’s a basic need that we should really all have,” DeSocio said.
Cabaniss knows that, too. It’s why he started Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow after watching a news segment on WATE last year, highlighting long lines at food banks nationwide.
“I went into the kitchen to make my vanilla brownies, and as I poured in vanilla extract, it hit me,” Cabaniss said. “I could sell vanilla extract and donate the profits to help those in need. And from there it just spiraled on and on.
“Now we’re here, and thanks to so many people from around the world, thanks to so many people from around the country, I’ve been able raise $100,000 and that translates to over 300,000 meals for those in need here in East Tennessee.”
If you’re looking for another sign of the impact he’s made, Second Harvest permanently renamed its kitchen after his nonprofit.
But for Cabaniss and DeSocio both, it’s never been about what they get. It’s all about how they can give.
“You will have no worries that every single penny will go in to our community, and we are grateful and we are humbled by everyone’s donations up to this point. And we’re just thankful for the opportunity honestly to help,” DeSocio said.
The Hunger Action Heroes competition ends this week. If you’re hoping to get in a last-minute donation, you can do so, here.